MINA Banisaeid is an asylum seeker who has not only changed her own life, but is helping to improve the lives of others around her. She is keen to stress that she was not a refugee fleeing war, as is the case in Ukraine. “I had come over here on a visa and asked for asylum, while I was here,” she said. She was, however, leaving a country where she had few rights as a woman and little opportunity to follow her own dreams. This week marks the third anniversary of her arriving in Carlisle and seeking asylum. An accountant by profession, she took a job here as a supermarket cashier. “It was a good job. It meant that I was still seeing people during the pandemic lockdown, and I was improving my English.” She said she felt welcome by most but there was a mixed reaction from some. She also found it hard to get what she needed – including English lessons. Mina, 35, now has much of what she wants – and one of those things is her girlfriend.